Skiing in Japan – Hakuba
With spring ski season almost upon us, we want to highlight one of our all time favorite ski areas in a Skiing in Japan series – Hakuba. Hakuba is located in the Japanese Alps of Nagano and with its consistently exceptional skiing conditions, proudly hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.
First pioneered in the early 19th century by farmers with skiing first introduced in 1911, this area has grown from humble beginnings to about 10,000 residents who now make Hakuba home. Hakuba’s character and mysticism of Japan make for a thoroughly enjoyable “Skiing in Japan” vacation.
Gazing at the mountains in this valley and you see why this resort stands apart from the rest, huge 3000 meter jagged peaks tower above the town below. Stand on top of these snow covered mountains and gaze throughout the valley below is awe-inspiring and the views are post card worthy.
The Hakuba Valley is a huge expanse of resorts offering an incredible variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders alike. From one end of the valley to the other and with 10 resorts accessing over 200 runs and an average seasonal base of 10 meters + of snow, Hakuba is the mecca for skiing in Japan.
From the southern end of the Valley Sun Alpine incorporates three ski areas to the linked resorts of Hakuba 47 and Goryu-Toomi and the Olympic ski resort of Happo-One situated in the heart of Hakuba. To the Northern end of the Valley, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Norikura and Cortina resorts are all impressive and rate highly amongst skiers and snowboarders alike.
From the complete novice to the expert skier, Hakuba provides some of the best skiing in Japan. It offers everything from gentle beginner slopes to steeps, bumps and long groomers and of course plenty of fresh powder. The Happo-One resort, boasting some of the highest snowfalls and longest vertical pitches in all of Japan is Hakuba’s premier skiers mountain.
Hakuba 47 and Goryu-Toomi challenges everyone from first timers to experts. Tsugaike and Iwatake are well suited to the beginner to intermediates and Tsugaike is one of the main access points into some of Japan’s most epic back-country skiing terrain. Then there is Norikura and Cortina and this is better known as being Hakuba’s deep powder ski resort. With long interrupted tree runs with deep deep dry powder snow. Hakuba’s reputation as a serious skiers destination is well balanced across all levels and offers something for everyone.
Hakuba provides an abundant variety of alpine alternatives and adventures for everyone to enjoy. Groomed cross-country skiing courses wind their way through some of the most spectacular terrain to be found in the Japan Alps. Ski the Olympic Cross-Country courses or the scenic Nordic courses at Minekata and Tsugaike Ski Resorts. Experience guided ski/snowboard and snowshoe tours in the Alps or try out, tobogganing, snow rafting and spring heli-skiing that is available in Tsugaike.
In international ski circles Hakuba is widely known as being a first class international resort with some of the best and most demanding ski/board terrain in all of Japan. Happo-One was the venue for the 1998 downhill, the slalom and the ski jumping, and continues to host every winter FIS World Cup Events.
For those wanting to have a break from the Alps, take in the history and culture of Nagano with tours departing from Hakuba to Matsumoto Castle and Nagano’s famous Zenkoji Temple.
The Hakuba Valley has a lot to offer with towering peaks, and high quality snow along with ski and snowboard schools for all levels and specially developed kids programs. There are private and group lessons, camps and instructor’s entry levels programs available. For those seeking more of an extreme ski opportunity, then the Hakuba Back-Country here is well known as the best in all of Japan and with our qualified friendly guides this makes for a great way to see more of the huge expanse of what is the Hakuba Valley.
Other than big resort skiing in Japan, waist deep powder experiences, beautiful blue bird sunny skies, soothing thermal hot springs, massages and body treatments, shopping and where fleece and ski jackets are the norm; the next thing to do is experience the Apres ski, which Hakuba has many choices of. With many restaurants and bars there’s everything from hot ramen noodles to fine French dinning and delicious cheeses and great world class wines and then finish the night at any one of the local bars enjoying Japan’s great beer and sake, both hot and cold.
Why Go On a Japan Ski Holiday?
Some of the major benefits of skiing in Japan aren’t even related to the skiing and snowboarding. The people are friendly and hospitable, the food is fabulous, the culture fascinating and most of the resorts have great facilities and accommodation. When you go on a Japan ski holiday, you have the chance to immerse yourself in the wonderfully interesting Japanese culture and see things you just will never see or experience elsewhere. We highly recommend getting off the slopes and seeing more of the country, either at the start or end of your skiing, or even in the middle. There is lots to see and do and we are here to help.
Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) – Hokkaido